It's all about fuel cell technology.
It’s not like Toyota was ever the industry leader in electric vehicles. What it did, however, was pave the way forward for mainstream hybrids. Toyota previously signed an agreement with Tesla for it to supply batteries and other essential technology to turn the RAV4 into an EV. However, that partnership has now come to an end. Instead of extending it with the current-gen RAV4, or any other model for that matter, Toyota prefers to focus on hybrids, plug-in hybrids and fuel cells.
Toyota has made clear that it doesn’t see EVs as a viable and mainstream form of mass transportation. It only views EVs in "a select way, in short-range vehicles that you take you that extra mile, from the office to the train, or home to the train, as well as being used on large campuses." Those are the words of Toyota North America CEO Jim Lentz. Interesting, considering Tesla has proven that an EV can be an effective daily driver – as long as supercharging stations are readily available. Toyota is keener to get fuel cell technology moving. It has already committed to the construction of a fuel cell infrastructure in the state of California.
And that’s likely just the beginning. California seeks to have some 50 refueling stations operational by the end of 2016. Toyota thinks 68 is the required number in order to satisfy its hopeful fuel cell customers. Either way, don’t expect a Prius EV, or any other EV, from Toyota anytime soon, if ever.